{Between the Lines}

The Agents of Books & Such Literary Management Muse About Books, Publishing, and Life

Marketing: Remember writing is a business

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

An author should expect to put time and money into marketing a book. The publisher has a marketing plan and budget for a book release, but the author is expected to market to his or her circle of influence.

I think it’s a good idea for an author to take time before a book release to plan and budget his or her own marketing much in the same way a publishing house would. Set aside a certain amount of money (comfortably within your budget!) and write out a plan of what you will do with that money and with the time you have to put into marketing as well. The key to planning successful marketing is to remember that what you put out should be earned back with interest through increased sales. Marketing should be an investment, so you should focus on what payoff your efforts could have. If you spend $20 on gas and food to drive to a book signing in another town, how many books are you likely to sell by doing this? If we estimate the royalty at $1 per book, I think you’d need to sell at least 40 copies for the $20 trip to be worthwhile.  That doesn’t even take into account the time that was spent on the trip though. A full day is worth a lot. (If you are selling copies you purchased at a large discount for the purpose of resale you will make more than $1/copy. But be sure to keep track of sales for tax purposes, too! Your city/state should have guidelines for this online.)

It’s extremely hard to know what the actual monetary gains will be from a marketing effort. For example, if you are able to gain a few new readers for one book, they are likely to buy other books from you in the future, and they might tell their friends about your books. I suggest estimating your return at the lowest possible payback for your efforts so that you are sure your marketing dollars are being spent well. The extra sales that might come from your efforts will just be icing on the cake at some future date.

If, for some reason or another, your marketing efforts don’t end up paying back what you put into them plus interest, you can console yourself with knowing that your money spent on marketing is also a tax write off.

How do you estimate your investment returns on marketing efforts?

Do you enjoy marketing your book? Why or why not?